Professional Development: Rock the Agency Life

Rock the Agency Life (1)In today’s highly-competitive agency world, getting a job is the first step on the ladder to success. Climbing the agency ladder involves more than just putting in your time and waiting for your turn at a promotion. It involves a commitment to ongoing education and professional development. In recognition of this, some agencies offer education reimbursement as an employment perk.

If your agency is willing to foot the bill to make you more marketable, it’s an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. Taking advantage of an employer-sponsored education reimbursement is like getting a raise twice. You benefit from your conference or class, and then you benefit from being a better educated worker. In the end, you increase your value in the marketplace.

Taking advantage of an
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Unfortunately, most employees are too busy to take advantage of their education reimbursement perk. In most cases, education reimbursement is a “use it or lose it” benefit. That means, if $1500 is set aside for you to invest in professional development and you don’t take advantage of it, that $1500 doesn’t rollover to the following year.

Now if you haven’t invested your education reimbursement yet, don’t worry – there’s still time. Here are a few ideas to help advance your career…

Attend an industry related conference

This is a no-brainer. A conference can be a big ticket item but if you plan way in advance, you can take advantage of early bird registration.

If your work involves social media like mine, I highly recommend Social Media Marketing World. It is the best social media conference I have ever attended to date!

Social Media Marketing World provides more than 100 expert-led sessions across seven tracks: Social Tactics, Social Strategy, Content Marketing, Measurement, Small Biz and Social Future.

Best of all, you can save $480 if you register before November 28th! Register now: Social Media Marketing World 2015

Online Training Programs

Online Training Programs – Lynda is a perfect solution for staying up to date in your field without having to empty your wallet. The site is devoted to professional video-based training that helps you learn software, design, or business skills. Best of all, new courses are added every week and closed captioning is available for most videos which helps with comprehension. A one month investment is $25 and that gives you unlimited access to their vast library. – Similar to, Udemy offers a huge range of topics but you pay a one time fee to access the content (some content is even free). I also love the fact that you can watch courses on your smartphone. If you’re pretty knowledgeable in a subject, you can even teach a course yourself if you wanted to make it into a side hustle.

Overall, I’d recommend taking courses that focus on:

  • Analytics (e.g., Google Analytics)
  • Content Development (e.g., Blogging)
  • Sales Strategies (e.g., Negotiation)
  • Tech Skills (e.g., SEO, WordPress, Mobile Marketing)

My Most Recommended Books

shutterstock_189290039Reading books by some of the world’s great business leaders is a great way to continue your education in marketing and gives you something to talk about while networking. If you can’t see yourself setting aside 30 minutes a day to read a book then try downloading the audiobook—it’s the perfect way to pass time when you’re stuck in traffic.

With that said, here are two books I highly recommend you add to your reading list for 2015.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
In Contagious, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos. I’ll be honest, I got the audiobook first and loved it so much that I bought the hardcover and gave a copy to everyone on my team.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team.


It’s up to you to stay on the cutting edge

These are just a few of the many ways to keep up in our ever-changing industry and let’s be honest, that’s why we chose the agency career path—it keeps us on our toes! Consider every day a new learning experience and, in this new year, challenge yourself to tackle at least two of the ideas above to stay ahead of the pack. You and your clients will benefit.

How are you keeping up with all of the new ideas and trends in your discipline? What other advice can you offer? Let me know in the comments.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals. 

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  • victoria m. December 4, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Totally agree! I am currently taking free classes at the college I work for. It may not be related to the actual job because of the subject, but it has definitively made me much better at my job. I’ve also participated in professional development training from the company and am now promotable… I know it’s hard to do what you do + more, but it really IS well worth the initial effort.

    • Stephanie Liu December 4, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      So happy to hear that you’re taking advantage of free classes at the college you work for! I’ve always been jealous of folks that worked at universities. I bet there are tons of classes that have lead to transferrable skills that you can take with you from one situation to another.

      I just recently took advantage of Udemy’s Cyber Monday deal where they had more than 500 courses on sale for $10! I have to admit, I stocked up on a few courses that I’ve been eyeing for a while that aren’t work related (e.g., photography).

  • Ella December 5, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Love the tips here Stephanie! Although I no longer work for an agency, I would definitely immerse myself in online training if it will be later on reimbursed! Loved the books you mentioned here and will definitely check them out!

    • Stephanie Liu December 5, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Ella! Let me know what you think of Jonah Berger’s book Contagious: Why Things Catch On. I know you work a lot in the social media space so I’m interested to hear how Jonah’s book will impact your content creation process.

  • Nihan January 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Another great article Stephanie! Just ordered ‘Contagious’ after seeing your recommendation. Can’t wait to read it! 🙂

    • Stephanie Liu January 13, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      I think you’ll really enjoy it Nihan! Let me know when you’re done reading it and then let’s catch up over lunch soon.

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